Friday, February 10, 2006

Cartoon Viewpoints

The Cartoon Jihad doesn't seem to be dying down real fast. There is divided opinion in every country in the West, and I imagine in the Muslim World as well. My own feeling is that it's a matter of resisting intimidation. The level of violent protest has basically proven that point, originally made by Jyllands-Posten. Another telling detail is how quickly the cartoons seem to disappear from a site. At any rate, I think I've found a couple places where the cartoons might be permanently available, here and here.

There have been a lot of opinions worth quoting. Here are three recent ones that I liked. Varifrank has posted four points to ponder regarding the Cartoon Jihad.

… Anyone of any religion who is found by the religious leaders of Saudi Arabia to have taken part in any act remotely similar to burning a flag with an islamic symbol on it will also be executed for the crime. Yet when you burn the symbol of their country that contains an emblem of their religion, The Danes will simply ask you to not litter and to get a permit for your protests.

… They want blood. They want to be clear to anyone watching that they are dangerous, for that is their clearly stated message. You dont words like "Slay", Butcher" and "exterminate" if your interested in changing government policy. The use of violent public protest is on a par with the suicide bomber, its a weapon we havent quite figured out how to fight, and the Islamists know this. We assign automatic virtue to any protest and the Islamists also know this.

… Few countries in world history have shown themselves to be as tolerant and accepting of outsiders as the Danes, yet the Danes did not give in to the Nazis. In the mind of the fanatic, this cannot be tolerated. If you wish to take over Europe, this culture and this idea must be the first thing to go. If Denmark cannot stand against the Islamists, then can we expect other far more anti-semitic nations in Europe to stand in opposition to the Islamists desires?

… What next? This time its supposedly a protest against cartoons that they have interpreted as "blasphemous". So what will it be next time? The serving of alcohol? Pork? uncovered women?

… If Google will block certain words for access to Chinas market, what will Google agree to do for Islam?

… even if we were to decide that the "cartoon blasphemy" must stop, we also know it wont end there. This is not about cartoons, its about control.

Christopher Hitchens, a famous atheist among other things, has an essay in Slate talking about the Right to Offend and includes a choice piece of information about the Salman Rushdie fatwa that I was unaware of.

… For most of human history, religion and bigotry have been two sides of the same coin, and it still shows.

… You can be sure that the relevant European newspapers have also printed their share of cartoons making fun of nuns and popes and messianic Israeli settlers, and taunting child-raping priests. There was a time when this would not have been possible. But those taboos have been broken. Which is what taboos are for. Islam makes very large claims for itself. In its art, there is a prejudice against representing the human form at all. The prohibition on picturing the prophet—who was only another male mammal—is apparently absolute. So is the prohibition on pork or alcohol or, in some Muslim societies, music or dancing. Very well then, let a good Muslim abstain rigorously from all these. But if he claims the right to make me abstain as well, he offers the clearest possible warning and proof of an aggressive intent. This current uneasy coexistence is only an interlude, he seems to say. … in the future, you will do what I say and you will do it on pain of death.

… In fact, Sunni Muslim leaders can't even seem to condemn the blowing-up of Shiite mosques and funeral processions, which even I would describe as sacrilege.

… Suppose that we all agreed to comport ourselves in order to avoid offending the believers? How could we ever be sure that we had taken enough precautions? … We cannot possibly adjust enough to please the fanatics, and it is degrading to make the attempt.

… When Salman Rushdie published The Satanic Verses in 1988, he did so in the hope of forwarding a discussion that was already opening in the Muslim world, between extreme Quranic literalists and those who hoped that the text could be interpreted. We know what his own reward was, and we sometimes forget that the fatwa was directed not just against him but against "all those involved in its publication," which led to the murder of the book's Japanese translator and the near-deaths of another translator and one publisher.

… civil society means that free expression trumps the emotions of anyone to whom free expression might be inconvenient. It is depressing to have to restate these obvious precepts, and it is positively outrageous that the administration should have discarded them at the very first sign of a fight.

And just to point out that it is possible to argue another point of view rationally, here is an article in Slate by Reza Aslan, who is, I believe, a Shiite from Iran.

… there has never been any large-scale furor over them [traditional images of Mohammed] for the simple reason that although they depict the prophet, they do so in a positive light.

Not so, of course, in the case of the now infamous Danish cartoons. The fact is that Muslim anger over the caricatures derives not merely from their depiction of Mohammed. … Rather, most Muslims have objected so strongly because these cartoons promote stereotypes of Muslims that are prevalent throughout Europe:[e.a.] Mohammed dressed as a terrorist, his turban a bomb with a lit fuse; Mohammed standing menacingly in front of two cowering, veiled women, unsheathing a long, curved sword; Mohammed on a cloud in heaven complaining that Paradise has run out of virgins. It is difficult to see how these drawings could have any purpose other than to offend

… they fly in the face of the tireless efforts of so many civic and religious leaders—both Muslim and non-Muslim—to promote unity and assimilation rather than hatred and discord; because they play into the hands of those who preach extremism …

2/10/2006 1:48 PM

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At Friday, February 17, 2006 2:21:00 PM, Blogger Cranky Yankee said...

I still say the cartoons would make great skateboard graphics. I consider myself an equal opportunity offender.


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